Why Hulk's Avengers introduction scene is pissing off Bollywood

Contributed by
Dec 17, 2012

Despite more than $1.1 billion in box office love (so far), The Avengers is still stirring up controversies here and there. First it irked adoptees with a joke, and now it's pissing off Indians with its intro of Dr. Bruce Banner. But how?

When we first meet Mark Ruffalo's incarnation of the gamma radiation expert/sometime enormous green rage monster, he's laying low in Kolkata (a city in eastern India also known as Calcutta), living in a shack and tending to local sick people. The introduction scene not only sets up Banner's (and Hulk's) reputation but also gives us a sense of what he's been through that's driven him to go so deep into hiding.

But good character moment or not, some Indians are less than pleased with the film's portrayal of Kolkata as little more than a slum. Among them are Bollywood actors, and they're speaking up.

"Kolkata has a rich culture and heritage, and a filmmaker should respect that," said actor Rituparna Sengupta. "There are two scenes about India and they only show slums. It could have been done in better taste."

Actor Neha Dhupia agreed that the portrayal of Kolkata in the film is grim, as are many portrayals of India in Western cinema (remember Slumdog Millionaire?) but argued that Indians need to do their part to change the way Westerners think about the country.

"It is disturbing to see the murky underbelly of India in Hollywood films," he said. "But before pointing it out to the West, we need to make efforts to change their perception about us."

You're never going to make people incredibly happy by portraying the place they live as a slum for millions of moviegoers to see, but it's not like Whedon had time to go back and have Banner take note that "By the way, the rest of this city is really nice." Still, could the scene have been done with more sensitivity?

(Via Nichi Bei)